I use to believe vaccines were toxic and GMOs caused cancer. Cabinets in my house were filled with oils, balms, and rubs to treat various illnesses. My husband and I ate organic food from trendy co-ops. During my pregnancy, I planned to be a natural, crunchy mom. However, my child was born with several brain abnormalities and congenital heart disease. In order to save his life, I had to throw away my crunchy beliefs and start trusting science.
When I got pregnant, I wanted to use a midwife and have a doula. My husband and I discussed homebirth options instead of hospital birth. I believed medications given during labor could damage his brain. In order to reduce that exposure, I decided I wanted to have a natural childbirth.
Friends began to talk to me about vaccination. I watched the documentary Vaxxed. My bookshelf filled up with books on vaccine dangers. My husband and I sorted through the literature. We thought we were reading scientific studies. I believed the anecdotes shared in the movies and books of parents. We agreed that our son would not receive numerous vaccines.
I surrounded myself around friends that drank anti-vaccine kool-aid. My social media feeds were filled with vaccine injury information. I believed the conspiracy that the FDA pushed out vaccines without proper testing. My friends and fellow anti-vax allies convinced me that mercury and aluminum in vaccines caused autism.
When I was around my pro-vaccine friends, they rolled their eyes at the information I shared with them. My brother, a scientist, tried to educate me about the safety of vaccines. However, the information went in one ear and out the other. I truly believed the companies making the vaccines didn’t care about the diseases. The books and documentaries I watched brainwashed me. I didn’t trust anything related to science.
Then my son came into the world. Despite no indications of illness in fetal ultrasounds, my son was born with neurological abnormalities. He also had a congenital heart defect. Additionally, his brain never formed a pituitary gland. Instead of thinking about after birth vaccines, I spent my first weeks of motherhood at his hospital bedside.
He needed machines to breathe and eat. Lights were needed to reduce his jaundice. Doctors diagnosed numerous hormonal deficiencies. We got a crash course in adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, and growth hormone deficiency. Our doctors told us he would never be able to go off these medications and survive.
At this point, I started to trust science. I watched his life improve. As his hormones stabilized, he started to eat on his own. He began to grow and thrive. I hated that he needed synthetic drugs. However, when your only option is medications or death, most logical parents will pick medications.
As I began to learn about my son’s diseases, I realized scientific advancements made his life possible. Children born with my son’s diseases until the 1980s died prematurely. Growth hormone replacement therapy wasn’t standard until that point in time. Had my son been born before the 1970s, he likely wouldn’t have lived beyond his childhood.
Scientific advancements in hormone replacement made it possible for my son’s endocrine system to survive without a pituitary gland. With regular labs and testing, his hormone levels could be monitored and controlled. The fact that science had discovered a way to mimic the endocrine function through medication meant my child could live.
When my son stopped eating by mouth, we had to place a feeding tube. Surgeons had created methods to bypass the mouth by placing a button directly into his stomach lining. When his stomach stopped working, the same surgeons were able to bypass his stomach and feed his intestines. My son grew in length and weight. None of that would be possible without science.
By age three, his congenital heart defect got worse. Through ultrasounds, doctors monitored the pressure inside his heart. When his heart began to fail, we knew he needed to have surgery. Surgery meant he needed to be on a bypass machine and ventilator to keep him alive. His life remained supported while surgeons fixed the abnormal valve in his heart.
Throughout this journey, I learned the importance of vaccines for children with immunocompromised systems. My son’s vaccines were all late due to his illnesses. He could not be around anyone that wasn’t properly vaccinated.
After his illness, I realized I was wrong about vaccines. Vaccines prevented children from suffering through diseases like pertussis, rubella, measles, and rotavirus. Children mortality greatly decreased with the introduction of vaccines into our society. My son’s disease could have been prevented with proper herd immunity. However, the anti-vaccine movement reduced the rates of immunized children. Herd immunity had been compromised.
When I made this discovery, I realized I could no longer support the anti-vaccine movement. Science developed these vaccines to prevent children from dying or suffering permanent disability. The same way science helped my son survive his missing endocrine system, science saved lives with vaccines.
Today I am a proponent and advocate for all children receiving their immunizations. I speak out regularly against the anti-vaccine propaganda. Despite being called terrible names, I don’t stop fighting for vaccines. Vaccines are not filled with terrible toxins that poison our kids. I refute anyone that provides bogus data or conspiracy theory. I may have believed that all at one point, but I know the truth now.
Science has created amazing ways for my son to live despite so many health issues. Vaccines ensure he will not contract diseases that could kill his fragile body. Despite all the garbage the anti-vaccine community throws my way, I will always believe in science.
Pseudoscience believed by anti-vaccine proponents is one of the biggest risks to our public health. Please don’t believe their hype.
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